The local governments of the South East Europe countries want to be involved in a realistic roadmap of integration.
In a declaration signed on the 10th of March, mayors and elected representatives of the local and regional governments of south-east Europe, meeting in occasion of NEXPO, the NALAS international Municipal Fair, that was held in Sarajevo, ask the EU to include the local government dimension in its strategic and operational planning for EU enlargement, and to involve them, in particular via their national associations, in relevant consultation and dialogue.
“Countries and people of South East Europe – says the declaration – need to take their proper place very soon, within the European Union. This will mark another major step towards unifying our continent and thereby enhancing our common goals of peace, stability and sustainable prosperity”.
But to maintain the prospect of EU membership a credible attractive for the citizens, the EU needs to set out a clear, realistic target timetable and roadmap for each State, taking its situation into due account, also on the basis that the necessary steps must be taken in a timely manner to fulfill the criteria for membership, and each country needs to take all necessary steps with each level of government playing its part, the mayors say.
“At present – the declaration underlines – it seems as if the EU’s institutions are under-estimating the essential role of the region’s local governments in preparing for EU integration”.
On the basis of these considerations, in their document mayors and representatives call on the EU’s Institutions to include the local government dimension in its strategic and operational planning for EU enlargement, to involve them in relevant consultations and dialogue and to ensure that relevant accession-related financing programmes are available to assist local government in preparing for accession and achieving a high quality development.
Mayors and representatives ask their national governments to complete and adequate the processes of decentralisation, with the transfer of the necessary competences, financial and human resources, involving local government associations at all stages in the processes of decentralisation, financial decision-making and preparation for EU membership.